Developer: Namco
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Controls Rating: ★★½☆☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★½

Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

I have to say, in one form or another, this has been one title I’ve been waiting to hit the iPhone. Ever since I saw what the device really was capable of a few months back with the likes of Need for Speed and Real Racing GTI, Ridge Racer to me seemed like a no-brainer. Nacmo’s Ridge Racer franchise is one which combines both no-limits racing and that arcade-like experience to bring an all rounded fast-action racing title to the table. I was first introduced to Ridge Racer was when I played it out on my PSP 2000 back in late 2007. The mix of funky backing tracks alongside its stunning 3D graphic environments and great cars to boot built a game I personally fell in love with. So, with the title coming to the iPhone and all the challenges that brings with it; What’s changed?

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Well, the first obvious change is of course the control system. It’s hard to be modified to work over multi-touch, but having played the game for a few days, I’m not too sure that the control system is right just yet, more on that later. The game plays out in three modes, these include:

Arcade – A fast round in which there is no messing about. Simply pick a car, and jump straight into the action with a quick race.

Duel – A fight for survival, you pick a ride for the sole purpose of winning. In a one-on-one battle you race to win against the computer.

Survival – Racing against 3 other machines your sole aim is to survive. After each lap the machine in last place will be eliminated.

Select any one of these modes and you’ll first be asked to pick a track. Overall the game includes 10 tracks from which you can choose from, although by default only the first two tracks are available. Tracks 3, 4, 5, 8 9 and 10 are purchasable from Nacmo’s online store. Purchasable? Yep, Ridge Racer Accelerated works off in-app purchases. The app offers two extension packs to enhance your gaming experience.

The first is a ‘Machine Pack’. This pack includes machine CLASS 5 to add more rides to your garage and the pack costs £1.19. There are 3 classes of machine offered in the game, with 9 machines in each class. The class of a machine represents the speed and agility level. Here’s a complete list of the machines available to you in Ridge Racer Accelerated excluding purchasable add-ons.

CLASS 1

FIERA Type-S
PROPHETIE Type-S
BAYONET Type-S
FIERA Type-R
PROPHETIE Type-R
BAYONET Type-R
FIERA Type-Z
PROPHETIE Type-Z
BAYONET Type-Z

CLASS 2

ABEILLLE Type-S
ESPERANZA Type-S
BISONTE Type-S
ABEILLLE Type-R
ESPERANZA Type-R
BISONTE Type-R
ABEILLLE Type-Z
ESPERANZA Type-Z
BISONTE Type-Z

By default only machine CLASS 1 and machine CLASS 2 are available, with machine CLASS 5 being an purchasable extra. The second pack is a pack which extends the amount of tracks available to you, unlocking a further 6 tracks for you to play on, and costing £1.79. Tracks 6 and 7 however are unlockable freely by completing the previous tracks beforehand in different modes. Now, this is all well and dandy Namco, but 6 tracks out of 10 have to be bought? After paying $2.99 for the game itself, I feel slightly cheated.

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Moving into actual gameplay, you’ll find that if you have played Ridge Racer before on either a PSP or PS3, the in-game screen will look quite familiar to you. Once you’ve chosen your car and selected whether you wish to use either automatic or manual as your gear transmission method, you’re ready to race. Each level intros with a short cut scene of the surrounding environment. The games control system is simple… in the bottom right of the screen you’ll find your accelerator pedal, and the bottom left your brake pedal. Above your accelerator pedal on the right of the screen you’ll see various other things, including your speed gauge, lap time, and full overview map of the course ahead. In the top left you’ll see your current position compared to how many other racers are racing, your current lap record and total time. Below are all of your stats and your nitrous tanks, represented as battery like icons these will fill up the faster and harder you ride. Along the bottom of the screen is your ’tilt’ meter. This will indicate how far you’re off from center point by way of a little red indicator. The game’s option panel offers a further visual configuration which sees the brake pedal move alongside your accelerator on the right of the screen, a nice touch.

Turning and drifting in Ridge Racer Accelerated is controlled by accelerometer. Although this might sound ideal for a device like the iPhone, I actually believe it’s one of the game’s let-downs. See, drifts within the game are triggered by what I call violent tilting, and it’s a control method I’ve personally never liked. Violent tilting is when you sorta tilt your device to one side faster than you normally would, and flick your wrist in the process. This is fine most of the time, but sometimes the accelerator doesn’t trigger a drift, meaning I found myself bouncing along the walls of the track – especially on corners. You can set tilting sensitivity under ‘Options’ .. but in my experience it made relatively no difference. Maybe it’s me, maybe I just suck at drifting? ..

Summing up, apart from some dodgy found control methods I think could do with some slight refining, Ridge Racer Accelerated is the Ridge Racer we all know, now on iPhone and iPod touch. A must for original fans of the franchise, and with future updates to the title slated to be bringing up to 40+ more courses and 60+ more machines free of charge, Ridge Racer Accelerated could be set to make its own mark on the App Store crowd.

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